PCTR MDO Half Marathon

It was a super fun trail race today run by Pacific Coast Trail Runs (PCTR) at one of my favorite running locations even though it wasn’t a true 13.1. It rained pretty good yesterday, so everything smelled good. Around mile 8, things started getting sticky. The trail was super muddy. It was funny seeing so many people so perturbed by the mud. I tried to be supportive, but I also laughed out loud a couple times (not in a disrespectful way). When I got to Islay Canyon, I was still feeling good, so I reeled in a few runners. Finally, I ran a section of trail I’ve never been on that included a nice little creek crossing. Everyone was super friendly as it is all all trail races I’ve been to. At the end, they actually had vegan food options which included vegan tacos and soup. Very nice. But I was super surprised to find out I won the half marathon distance in my age group. That’s never happened before. I very well may find that I was the only 40-something running that distance today, but it was a cool surprise either way. Very good morning. And now the rain is coming in. That will make it even better.

Vlog #17 – Buckeye Goodbye

It has been a tough week. This is how I choose to deal with difficult times.

Exploring the Buckeye Trail

Today, I decided to explore a trail I have never been on: the Buckeye Trail. I read some trail reports last night, and the conditions seemed good, but it sounded like a steep climb. Highway 1 was closed right after the trailhead (literally within 200 feet of the trailhead) due to the huge landslide that happened last year. That won’t be cleared up for a couple of years if I were to guess.

Sure enough, it was steep. It was quite chilly at the start, but even after about 10 minutes, I had to shed my jacket due to the incline. But it wasn’t long before the views of the coastline started paying off. It was delightful traversing the west side of the Ventana Wilderness in and out of steep little canyons filled with tall pine trees. A few of the creeks were flowing well.

I finally reached the Buckeye Camp, and it was a really nice place. There was a meadow bordered with pine, oak and four big eucalyptus trees. A small creek was flowing down the south side. I enjoyed it very much.

Eventually, I decided to turn around. I had a blister developing on my right heal for some annoying reason, and I was probably a bit low energy due to the last three days of running. There wasn’t a definite turnaround point anyway, and it was steeper than anticipated. If I don’t have a goal to continue climbing for, it can get hard to continue. Also, the wind higher on the hill was piercingly cold. I was the only person out there.

It was a successful exploration and well worth the climb. I couldn’t have asked to be anywhere else today. Perfect.

Heavy Wind, Misty Rain, and Sticky Mud

I headed out to MDO today to run the trails in the rain. What I didn’t expect was the heavy wind that came with the rain. It was so uncomfortable in the beginning that I wasn’t sure I was going to complete the run. But eventually, I warmed up. But as I reached the top of Hazard Peak, the wind was blowing so hard that it was difficult to breathe, stand, and maintain my hat on my head. The wind was blowing probably around 40 mph. Eventually, I put my rain jacket hood on over the hat and cinched down the line to keep everything together. It worked well. It was also at this point that I ran into the only other person I saw the entire time: a lady that was also running. I have an affinity with people I run into in those types of conditions, although I can’t say that to a random female I’ve never met before.

Conditions on the trail were pretty good most of the time until I reached East Boundary Trail. That one had a sticky clay that accumulated on my shoes. After a few steps, you could gain ten pounds on your feet as well as a couple of inches in height. But it’s not fun to run that way. It was a bit tricky getting down East Boundary, but once I made it to Islay Canyon, everything was fine.

At the end of Islay, I connected back to the Hazard Peak Trail to get back to my car over by the Hiedra Trail. The wind was still howling, and I was completely saturated. Rain jackets don’t help in those conditions. I hoped to get more like 15 miles today, but under the circumstances, I was happy with 11. It was not an easy run, but that’s what it’s all about.

Vlog #16 – Almost Alta

Sometimes I make wrong turns. Sometimes I get unexpected views because of it.

Vlog #15 – Winter Waterfall

Last Thursday, I got to do some hiking around Sequoia National Park. On this hike, I got to see a beautiful frozen waterfall. See what it was like in this video.

Chapel to Church Half Marathon

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When I noticed that there was a half marathon in Santa Maria, I had to try it. It starts at the first historic landmark in Santa Maria which is right next to the Sisquoc Winery and leads around the foothills of Santa Maria. Yesterday’s weather report showed that it was going to be a warm run. I like be be completely self-sustaining, so I think I was the only person there that had a hydration pack. I’m fine with that. I know exactly what I’m eating and drinking, and I prefer it that way.

It’s a good thing because there were some weird things about this run even though it is the third year it’s been held. There was no “food” at any rest stops. Only water. So I was happy I provided for myself. I won’t get into the other weird things because I’m sure it is difficult to do a race like this. But I will state the obvious: it was a slightly long half marathon. Personally, I was fine with that. I could have gone for more.

But it was warm at the end. I was worried the heat would get to me as it has in the past. I did my best hydrating, and I think it paid off. There were some good hills, but it was nothing compared to my usual weekend runs. I was pretty happy to be able to run most of them. Everyone I talked to was very nice and supportive. So I think it was a success. Plus, it is my first race in about a year. It’s nice to “race” again even though I don’t usually go for speed.

Friday Night Long Run

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I was not able to run this weekend (except maybe Sunday night), so I took my opportunity when I had it. And it was lovely. I had such a great night, and I felt strong. I planned to do 10 miles, but I extended it a bit. It was a cool night, but I had my perfect running jacket on the whole time, which made everything perfect. Never underestimate the benefit of proper clothing.

I ran into a set of four (maybe?) eyes looking at me at mile 7. I stopped to try to tell what the animal was. The only possibilities were house cat, bobcat, or a couple of gremlins. But I couldn’t get close enough, so I assume they were some mutant version of a gremlin, and I very nearly escaped with my life (unless they weren’t wet).

But other than that, it was an uneventful run. It just felt good. I’m ready for the half marathon race next week. Going back to church (I guess)!

The Victims of the Montecito Mudslides

Montecito is one of the most affluent communities in the world. It is beautiful. It is devoid of strip malls and chain restaurants. It is nestled in the foothills of incredible nature and wildlife that include peaks almost 4000 feet tall and the ocean stretching out to the Channel Islands. It frustrates me that such a community would disregard the evacuation warnings when the rains were so clearly forecast to come. The mudslides in Montecito were predicted.

I watched a press briefing held on the Friday before the floods that accurately stated the potential of the upcoming storm. They stated that this situation is not like the Thomas Fire where you may have hours to leave the area. They said you may have 10 minutes or less to get to safety.

I spoke to my father-in-law, who lives in Des Moines, IA, about the severity of the situation mere hours before the rain was expected to be heaviest because I didn’t want him to be worried by the news reports that seemed so likely to come. (I do live in Santa Barbara County.) But only 10-15% of Montecito residents felt the warning was worth taking seriously despite the press briefings, news reports, weather forecasts, the alerts on cell phones of almost all Santa Barbara County residents, and the sixty people that did door to door evacuation warnings for five hours on Monday.

I don’t live in Montecito, but I do live in Santa Barbara County. I am very familiar with the area from years of living within miles on Montecito and spending my free time running some of my favorite trails that lie in the front country of the Camino Cielo ridgeline, many of which were burned in the Thomas Fire. I can’t help but feel a connection with the area even though I have no direct connection with the people that live there. Tonight, I found a Los Angeles Times article titled “Who they were: The victims of the Montecito mudslides.” It is the most heart-wrenching and sad article I have read. This is a tragedy, not because it is one of the most affluent communities in the world or because it is such a beautiful location, but because it was an avoidable situation that affected real human beings. Some of those human beings spent their time making their community and the surrounding communities a better place. Some were too young to ever have that chance. Now they are gone.

The German Shepherd and the Incoming Rain

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Once again, I was trying to time my run to hit the worst of the rain today. But the forecast kept changing. I finally decided on a late daylight run.

It still wasn’t raining when I started, but I could see a wall of rain moving in to the north. I hoped it would move toward our direction. So the C dog and I headed out for a minimum of five miles. A light drizzle started as we climbed the ridge. There was a bit fo wind kicking up too.

About 3.5 miles in, the rain started coming down a little more. I think you could actually call it rain at that point. C dog has never been in heavy rain, so I was interested how he would react. But he really didn’t. He continued on like nothing was different. And his fur really didn’t take on water like our first dog, Heather. She would get saturated and would be shaking constantly. But C dog was like a duck.

It was so enjoyable running in the rain, that I extended the run another mile. I’m not sure C dog appreciated it, but it wasn’t his decision. And he always needs the exercise. We finished the run very wet. When C dog jumped in the back of the car, he didn’t even shake like every other dog I have ever seen in my life. He simply laid down on his bed and crossed is front paw in a dignified way. It was great.

I didn’t get the downpour I was hoping for, but it was really enjoyable. I hope to have more rain runs like this in the upcoming months.